Based on the true story about the famous murderers, 'Burke And Hare' follows the hapless exploits of these two men as they fall into the highly profitable business of providing cadavers for the medical fraternity in Nineteenth Century Edinburgh, then the centre of medical learning. The one thing they were short of was bodies.Written by
Robert Paynter: The Cinematographer, and frequent John Landis collaborator as a "Distinguished Doctor". Paynter died shortly before the release of the film. See more »
Burke and Hare are in Greyfriars Churchyard, digging up a body, but are watched by a dog on John Gray's grave; this is presumably Greyfriars Bobby. In reality, Greyfriars Bobby lived around 1855-1872 so would have lived later than 1828/29 when the series of murders took place. See more »
I played Agnes in Moliere's "School for Wives" at the Garrick Theatre in London... then times got tough and I branched out into... physical theatre.
Ah, like acrobatics?
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This is a true story. Except for the parts that are not. See more »
It is good to see a John Landis film back on the big screen but i feel he missed a trick or two with this average effort. Firstly, for a film set in Scotland i found it odd that the cast was almost entirely English, betraying the roots of the story (and of the English cast only Tom Wilkinson ,a splendid actor, managed to give a good approximation of a Scots accent).
This film felt a bit of a homage to the Hammer films, a point made when a certain Hammer Icon makes a cameo appearance (i won't name the individual as i don't want to add a spoiler). I am guessing Landis is a Hammer fan and to be fair to him the sets and locations work quite well, giving Edinburgh a spooky feel to it. Both Pegg and Serkis are OK in the lead roles and do their best to sound Irish. It was also good to see Jenny Agutter make a brief appearance too, especially as she is invariably remembered for appearing in Landis's American Werewolf in London nearly 30 years ago...a nice touch by the director. In fact there seems to be quite a lot of casting British film and TV icons in this film (Ronnie Corbett being another) so i'm guessing that maybe Simon Pegg or Andy Serkis only agreed to do it if certain British childhood icons of theirs were also given parts.
To be honest the Burke and Hare story has been better done before but this film puts a comedic twist on it that doesn't always work. The bad language feels unnecessary for a start and the gore isn't as bad as i thought (certainly not on the levels of the Hostel or Saw films...and not even as graphic as the Final Destination franchise). There are some genuine laughs to be had but usually when Pegg and Serkis are on the screen. The story itself also swings back and forth between gruesome and the unexpected romantic angles that may have been intended to show Burke and Hare as committing their crimes for something other than just greed.
Basically this is a reasonably graphic horror story with heart and morality that has some good laughs but falls flat in a few areas. The cast give it their best shot and whilst it has an old fashioned feel to it in many ways, it is the unnecessary post-modern touches, the inconsistent rate at which the comedy comes and the rather odd casting that jarred me. However do keep an eye out for the odd cameo appearance from some famous actors and comedians.
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